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Poison Control warns of dangers of batteries

By Nadine Wimmer | Posted - Dec. 16, 2011 at 5:32 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Tara Zaugg and her family were spending a quiet even at home when 1-year-old Henry snuck away.

"I guess I didn't know the danger before it happened," said his mother, Tara Zaugg. "Just that one little mistake you know and we weren't watching. Yeah and it can happen so fast."

In just a few seconds Henry swallowed a lithium battery and he had another in hand.

Child safety advocates want to put a danger on parents' safety radar. With the holidays, tiny, button-shaped, lithium batteries are everywhere, making they easy to access and swallow. They're in Christmas greeting cards, small toys, even those books with sound kids love.

"I actually called poison control because I wasn't sure what to do and they told us to go to the ER right away," Zaugg said.

This year, Utah Poison Control has been inundated with phone calls from concerned parents.

"What has really shot up is the proportion of cases that end up with a very severe or potentially fatal outcome," said Dr. Barbara Crouch, of Poison Control.

In as little as two hours, a lithium battery lodged in the esophagus, can be fatal for a young child.

"(These batteries) essentially cause electro-chemical damage to the tissue," Crouch said. "So that can actually cause a burn, if you can think about that on the inside and that can then burn all the way through.

Dr. Crouch offers strict advice for parents: don't wait.

"It's really an urgent medical concern when they need to immediately go in," Crouch said.

Henry's mom followed her instincts and acted immediately. The Poison Control recommends you keep all items with lithium batteries out of reach of children. If your child is playing with a toy containing one of the batteries, don't leave the room.

Email:dwimmer@ksl.com

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